EXCLUSIVE: "Between Maybes" Star Julia Barretto On Adulting, Choosing Her Battles, And Self-Reflection
It’s a little after lunch, and while others are still trying to shake off the sluggishness from their heavy meals, Julia Barretto is a spark of bright, calm energy.
The week of this shoot, she was in the thick of promoting her newest film, Between Maybes, produced by Black Sheep Productions and directed by Jason Paul “JP” Laxamana. Here, she headlines the romantic drama with Gerald Anderson, who plays her rugged love interest.
In the film, she is Hazel Ilagan, a famous actress–much like herself in real life–who is in the midst of a personal crisis and who sets off to the Land of the Rising Sun for some soul-searching. But as she escapes to the quiet of Saga, Japan, she finds love unexpectedly in Louie Puyat (played by Gerald), and together they navigate love in a time of “maybes.”
Is it the right love at the wrong time? How can one enjoy happiness seeing the inevitability of the end? The story resonates on so many levels with its bittersweet themes, and this is precisely what allured Julia and convinced her that only she can play the part of Hazel.
Taking wisdom from her own life, Julia agrees that it’s hard to stay optimistic especially when life seems to simply be a string of fleeting moments. How can you be happy when everything can change and disappear in an instant?
She waxes philosophical: “For me, what helps me to cope is acceptance; accepting that the most permanent thing in the world is the impermanence of life.” And perhaps it’s embracing this basic fact that gives greater sweetness to the moments in one's life.
Julia continues, “I think that’s one of the biggest struggles of human beings. Instead of focusing on the good [and the now], we focus more on the bad. But you kind of learn how to manage that when you grow up, 'di ba? The older you get, the more you understand… There is sadness in the reality that some things may not last, but that makes you realize more the importance of enjoying the moment while it’s here, while it lasts.”
Between Maybes is already garnering positive reviews, because as much as it is a love story, it is more a journey of self-reflection.
When it comes to her role, “It wasn’t hard to imbibe the character of Hazel,” explains Julia, “because it’s hard for me to see any difference–between her and I.” Hazel is a rising actress who’s grasping for control in the dizzying world of showbiz. Julia definitely relates to the protagonist who wants to pause and regain footing.
“I understand her completely, as we’re both actresses. She maybe a little crazier than me–her crazy may be a little more different than mine–but everything else is the same,” she nods.
“I’ve been very blessed [in my career], but it does get overwhelming,” Julia reveals. She hopes that she won’t be misconstrued for being ungrateful. Showbiz definitely has its perks, but also does have a dark side that’s hard to manage. She cites the pressure and the “unnecessary noise” you hear from so many different people–“from people who are trying to control your life and dictate the kind of person you should be.” It can get toxic, and sometimes, she says, “You just need to get away from all of that and breathe.”
For Julia, life, not only in showbiz, does get confusing and overwhelming, but she’s able to remain grounded because of the support and love from her family and friends. She praises her mom Marjorie Barretto, who has served as her rock and who is always ready with a warm hug and a soothing word for her daughter.
Julia shares, “She taught me to ‘choose my battles.’ We don't have to waste our energy on every single [drama we’re invited to]. I’m learning now how to walk away from things that don't serve you any good purpose anymore.”
This latest film only further drilled into her her mom’s most meaningful lesson. But more than the lessons, Julia is also thankful for the opportunity to work with such a creative powerhouse team in such an inspiring environment.
Of her castmate, she says, “Gerald is a wonderful person. He's just so easy to be around with, and he knows how to get along with everybody. He doesn’t treat anybody differently. He’s such a good influence, so professional.”
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After being romanced by the serenity of Saga, Julia hopes that she can return there someday soon. But for now, if she does get a break before her next project, she hopes that her schedule will allow her to fulfill a tiny wish: to head to Siargao for a quick beach escape.
With the movie now showing in cinemas nationwide, and with more time on her hands, Julia is now able to quietly reflect on the direction she wants to take her life to.
“You know, this year, it’s the first time I’ve ever felt the extreme need for self-care and self-love. I’ve never felt that I needed to prioritize myself as much as I feel now. Parang this year, I want to take care of my soul, my heart, my thoughts, because I feel like I tend to be a sponge.” She feels like she absorbs the energy of other people, which could be bad for her. So now, she’s focused on learning how to manage her thoughts and her emotions, and putting herself first.
Though far from the ordinary 22-year-old, Julia is in a way just like every young person who’s finding her way through life and adulthood. “I think the biggest takeaway I have from this whole experience is that it’s possible to find yourself again after having lost yourself. And sometimes when you lose yourself, it’s for the better, because you always come out stronger and better.” And that’s why the journey is always worth all the heartache.
Produced by Grace Libero-Cruz
Photographs by Gee Plamenco Jr.
Creative direction by Chookie Cruz
Makeup by RB Chanco
Hairstyling by Anton Papa
Styling by Cath Sobrevega, assisted by Riri Verano and KT Landingin
Shoot assistants: Judy Arias and Angelica Montoro